Thursday, November 27, 2003

Mike Fleming Really Is An Idiot

Mike's found a new hobby horse of late, cobbled together from old pieces of cliche and some half-baked ideas he's picked up from the Web. It's taking him to a new low.

The roots go back to September 11, 2001. Right after the story broke, his employer, AM 600 WREC went with ABC television simulcast until they could pull their own team together. That became Mike Fleming and John "Bad Dog" McCormack (of WREG Rock 103). John immediately began to call for America to bomb the Middle East, before we had any idea what was going on. Fleming, on the other hand, came out of the gate asking listeners which civil rights they were going to give up to pursue the people responsible. It was absurd and premature, to say the least.

Well, last week, Fleming ran across this story, from the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI. In it, an interview with an alleged top Al-Qaeda lieutenant is translated. Abu Salma Al-Hijazi claims that at or near the end of Ramadan (which ended on Tuesday past), Al-Qaeda would launch an attack against America that would kill "100,000" people.
In regard to rumors about a large-scale attack against the U.S. during the month of Ramadan, Al-Hijazi said that "a huge and very courageous strike" will take place and that the number of infidels expected to be killed in this attack, according to primary estimates, exceeds 100,000. He added that he "anticipates, but will not swear, that the attack will happen during Ramadan." He further stated that the attack will be carried out in a way that will "amaze the world and turn Al-Qai'da into [an organization that] horrifies the world until the law of Allah is implemented, actually implemented, and not just in words, on His land... You wait and see that the balance of power between Al-Qai'da and its rivals will change, all of a sudden, Allah willing."
"You wait and see...." The words of every angry, impotent child.

As with many things at MEMRI, there's a whole, enormous grain of salt to be taken here. Middle Eastern newspapers operate far differently from American and European papers, in that boast, brag, false claims and all kinds of stretching are par for the course. Standards of impartiality, neutrality, even-ness, accuracy, etc. are not always observed. So, it's entirely possible that this Al-Hijazi was spreading propaganda through this newspaper and it was willingly complying.

But Fleming took it as gospel. Then, he mixed in this story from, a right-wing Republican news site that quotes retired Major General Tommy Franks:
Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that “the worst thing that could happen” is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”

Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”
Fleming took this to mean that martial law would be declared in the wake of an event like the "100,000 dead" MEMRI story.

If you go to the NewsMax main page and scroll the list of stories, you'll note a breathless sense of outrage and incredulity. Every Democrat slip or crack is an outrage. The tiniest bits of sugar get whipped furiously into a mountain of cotton candy. I used to read this site regularly, but got tired of the constant righteous fury. Fleming has been cribbing stories from them for years, sometimes reading articles word-for-word without bothering to mention NewsMax; recently, he was called on this on the air and has been better about his attributions.

He somehow stirred this all up and got a story: there will be a horrible mass murder and martial law will be declared, ending the Constitution and the United States. He's been running with it most shows ever since. It's silly, extreme hyperbole of the lowest type. Sadly, that's just what Fleming loves to truck in, because it's easy and guaranteed to get folks listening.

Cheap and lazy fear-mongering. Way to go, Fleming.

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